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The importance of Iran

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Uploaded on Jul 22, 2009

Iran lies at the very heart of the Greater Middle East, and in a way or another is implied in each of the many regional problems.

First of all, Iran is the direct heir of the great Persian empire and of its secular cultural influence on the neighboring regions. Tehran’s ruling elite considers Iran a major regional power and for decades has been trying to acquire nuclear capabilities.

Moreover, the Islamic Republic is the reference point of the Shiite galaxy, the minority branch of the Muslim world whose members live along the coast of the Persian Gulf – core of the world’s oil production – as well as in Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts of the region. This Shiite crescent is perceived as a serious threat by Saudi Arabia, a mainly Sunni country, and by other Gulf States.

But there’s more to it. Iran is home to the world’s third largest oil reserves, that in fact cannot be fully exploited because of the country’s long international isolation. Also, Iran’s strategic position makes it able to blockade the Hormuz strait, a bottleneck on the world’s most important oil sea route.

Through its axis with Syria, Tehran finances the Shiite Hizbullah movement in Lebanon and the Sunni extremists in the Gaza Strip, thus posing a direct threat to Israel.

Finally, the Iranian plateau is located between the Caucasus and the Indian Sea. Thus, it could be a valid alternative to export the oil and gas from the Caspian basin without crossing Russia. But, at the moment, this remains un unconfessed Western dream.

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